Photo sharing community EyeEm licenses users' photos to train AI if they don't delete them

EyeEmthe Berlin-based photo sharing community that transferred to a Spanish company last year Freepik after going bankrupt, it now licenses its users' photos to train AI models. Earlier this month, the company informed users via email that it was adding a new clause to its terms and conditions that would grant it the rights to upload user content to “train, develop and improve software, algorithms and machine learning models. .” Users were given 30 days to opt out by removing all their content from the EyeEm platform. Otherwise, they agreed to this use case for their work.

At the time of the acquisition in 2023, EyeEm's photo library had 160 million images and almost 150,000 users. The company said it would merge its community with Freepik's over time.

Once seen as a possible challenger to Instagram — or at least “Europe's Instagram” — EyeEm had dwindled to a staff of three before selling to Freepik, JS's Ingrid Lunden previously reported. Freepik CEO Joaquin Cuenca Abela hinted at the company's possible plans for EyeEm, saying it would explore how to bring more AI into the equation for creators on the platform.

As it turns out, this meant selling their work training AI models.

Now, from EyeEm updated terms and conditions sounds like this:

8.1 Grant of Rights – EyeEm Community

By uploading content to the EyeEm Community, you grant us the non-exclusive, worldwide, transferable, and sublicensable right with respect to your content to reproduce, distribute, publicly display, transform, adapt, make derivative works of such content. to create, communicate to the public and/or promote works. Contents.

This specifically includes the sublicensable and transferable right to use your Content for the training, development and improvement of software, algorithms and machine learning models. If you do not agree to this, you may not submit your content to the EyeEm Community.

The rights granted in this Section 8.1 in your Content shall survive until complete removal from the EyeEm Community and Partner Platforms in accordance with Section 13. You may request removal of Your Content at any time. The conditions for this can be found in Chapter 13.

Section 13 outlines a complicated process for takedowns that begins with first removing photos directly — which would not affect content previously shared to EyeEm Magazine or social media, the company notes. To remove content from the EyeEm Market (where photographers sold their photos) or other content platforms, users must submit a request to support@eyeem.com and provide the Content ID numbers for the photos they wanted removed and whether this should be done as well deleted from their account, or just from the EyeEm market.

Note that the notice states that these removals from the EyeEm marketplace and partner platforms may take up to 180 days. Yes, that's right: requested takedowns last up to 180 days, but users only have 30 days to opt out. That means the only option is to manually delete photos one by one.

Even worse, the company adds that:

You hereby acknowledge and agree that your permission for EyeEm to market and license your Content under Sections 8 and 10 remains valid until the Content is removed from EyeEm and all partner platforms within the timeframe specified above. Any license agreements entered into prior to the complete deletion and the usage rights granted thereby remain unaffected by the deletion request or deletion.

Section 8 details the license rights for training AI. In section 10, EyeEm informs users that they will give up their right to receive payouts for their work if they delete their account – something users may think they are doing to prevent their data from being passed to AI models. Okay!

EyeEm's move is an example of how AI models are trained based on users' content, sometimes without their explicit consent. Although EyeEm offered some sort of opt-out procedure, any photographer who missed the announcement would have lost the right to dictate how their photos would be used in the future. Considering that EyeEm's status as a popular Instagram alternative has diminished significantly over the years, many photographers may have forgotten they ever used it. They may have ignored the email if it wasn't already in a spam folder somewhere.

Those who did notice the changes were upset that they were only given 30 days notice, and no options to delete their contributions in bulkmaking it more painful to unsubscribe.

Requests for comment sent to EyeEm were not immediately acknowledged, but since this countdown had a 30-day deadline, we opted to publish before hearing back.

This kind of dishonest behavior is why users today are considering a move to the open social web. The federated platform, Pixelfedwhich runs on the same ActivityPub protocol that powers Mastodon, is taking advantage of the EyeEm situation to attract users.

In a post on the official account, Pixelfed announced “We will never use your images to help train AI models. Privacy first, pixels forever.”

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